Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Empire, Jihad, and Choice

Writes Charles Featherstone, of LewRockwell.com:

"We are at war with Muslims, but not all Muslims. In fact, the struggle is only with a small number of Muslims who have not only embraced a revolutionary political ideology, but have chosen to act on that belief. (And we would likely still be at war even if we gave them everything they wanted.) Our failure to properly appreciate that, to drive ourselves to a frenzied panic, to mull genocide as the answer to our problem, to fear we will lose when clearly we will not, is to create an existential dilemma where none exists...

To target nation states or whole communities ... in response for the actions of single individuals acting on behalf of a completely voluntary, non-state revolutionary group is the height of foolishness.

It also proves we've met an enemy we can't bomb. And the folks who run the Pentagon don't know what to do with enemies except bomb them."

In the aftermath of September 11, one of the most difficult questions I've had to deal with in criticizing the American Empire was the issue of terrorism and jihad. The debate was framed- quite deliberately - by the Emperor himself, in the nonsensical terms of "you're either with us, or with the terrorists."

But how about, "none of the above"? Being opposed to a gang of Muslim fanatics trying to re-create a VII (or XI?) century jihad with XXI-century technology did not, does not, and should not mean siding with the abomination that has murdered the American republic and possessed its cadaver. Or vice versa: just because George W. Bush and his minions have fabricated a danger that would justify their imperial adventure doesn't mean a danger does not exist. It just isn't the danger they are carping on about.

It is not "terror" itself the Empire claims to be - or should be - fighting. After all, terror from the skies, or the threat thereof, is its preferred method of keeping the rest of the world in line. The enemy here is the fanatical jihad movement, nurtured by that very same Empire as a weapon against the USSR back in the 1970s (in profound ignorance of jihad and Islam in general). It has since become loose, feeding on hatred over the real and perceived outrages against Muslims, beginning with the first Gulf War in 1991 and continuing with the "genocides" in Bosnia and Chechnya.

(As an aside here, the oft-used argument in America that punishing the Serbs for "genocide" against the Balkans Muslims would demonstrate the good will of the West is cynical. There would be no gratitude from Muslims, Balkans or otherwise, for something they consider America's obligation. I mean, who ever gets praised for doing what is expected of them? Furthermore, the fanatical Muslims will never be pleased by anything the "Crusaders" do. The whole "appease the Muslims by kicking the Serbs" thing is as stupid as it is irrational.)

Anyway, once the Empire invaded and occupied Iraq - using the same pattern of aggression established with Serbia - things got a bit more complicated. Among the Iraqi insurgents who have made life hell for the occupiers are both patriots and bona fide terrorists. The Empire, understandably, blurs the distinction - and if history is any indicator, the terrorists (who are more determined to inflict, and accept, death) will eventually overwhelm the patriots, if they haven't done so already. But my guess is that most Iraqis shooting at Americans are fighting for the same reason anyone fights invaders: "they are over here."

One can - and should - oppose both the Empire and the jihad on moral grounds. Both seek to impose ideas and interests by force, and are impervious to reason. Neither has any respect for life, liberty or property. The "with us or against us" is a choice between two evils. I don't have to choose evil at all - and neither do you.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Decline and Fall of Conservatism

Apologies for the lack of posts. Between certain personal obligations and the blistering heatwave rolling across the United States, it's been very hard to think, let alone make coherent comments about anything.

Butler Shaffer of LewRockwell.com doesn't have that problem . Indeed, he continues to write amazing philosophical essays. His latest, "The Decline and Fall of Conservatism," explains how a once-great philosophy of individual liberty, property rights and society-over-state degenerated into a totalitarian institution that tramples liberty, destroys property and elevates state above all.

I really shouldn't quote from the article, as taking anything out of context would be doing it injury; but there is a metaphor I cannot resist mentioning:

"...when the Soviet Union collapsed, conservatives were left without a raison d’être. Their very existence, as a political movement, ceased to be. They had accumulated weapons and powers – along with an army of defense contractors eager to keep the game going – but no "enemy." Conservatives – and, I should add, so-called "liberals" – were like a man with a leash, desperately in search of a dog."

Simply brilliant.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Conscience and freedom

I'm backdating this post to July 13, when it should have appeared. That I forgot to post it does not mean its message is any less important; only that I can be incredibly absent-minded at times.

This is a quote from a 1987 book, specifically from a lecture given by one Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger - now Pope Benedict XVI. The full text is on LewRockwell.com.

"Where conscience prevails there is a barrier against the domination of human orders and human whim, something sacred that must remain inviolable and that in an ultimate sovereignty evades control not only by oneself but by every external agency. Only the absoluteness of conscience is the complete antithesis to tyranny; only the recognition of its inviolability protects human beings from each other and from themselves; only its rule guarantees freedom."

These are certainly words to live by. One does not have to be Catholic to agree.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Long Way From Over

At Monday's commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the fall of Srebrenica, a column of Bosnian Muslims marched in wearing T-shirts with the photo of warlord Naser Oric and the slogan "Is self-defense a crime?" This presumably refers to Oric's wartime actions, which resulted in thousands of Serb civilians brutally murdered and dozens of villages destroyed.

Others bore the wartime sigil of the Bosnian Muslim government, the cynically appropriated shield of medieval Christian kings. They chanted "Long live the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina" - the name under which the Muslim-dominated government declared independence in 1992 - and "Death to the Serb Republic!"

Think the Bosnian War ended in 1995? Think again...

(photo: Zoran Šaponjić, Glas Javnosti, 12. July 2005)

Monday, July 11, 2005

Montenegrin Separatists Lose It

Say something the Montenegrin separatists don't like, and you may find yourself shot - or accused of terrorism. Last spring, the editor of a Podgorica newspaper who wrote about president/prime minister Milo Djukanovic's shady adventures in cigarette-smuggling was gunned down. The recent accusation of terrorism came at the expense of Srdja Trifkovic, Chronicles editor, prolific historian and commentator, after his recent appearance at a forum opposing Montenegrin separatism.

According to Trifkovic's colleague (and author of a great history of Montenegro) Thomas Fleming, papers close to the government accused Trifkovic of authoring a death threat to Djukanovic; the purported threat is a crude and sloppy forgery - which did not prevent the leading Empire-glorifying daily in Belgrade (the Jacobin Danas) from eagerly parroting the charge.

Aware that American money won't keep their criminal gang in power forever, that support for "independence" has consistently remained low (were it not so, the referendum Djukanovic keeps threatening to call would have taken place years ago), that their attempts to establish separate"Montenegrin" nation, culture, church, history and language have been recognized as a demented joke, and that the only way to avoid Italian smuggling indictments is diplomatic immunity, Djukanovic and his cronies have become desperately delusional enough to believe they could shape reality through propaganda.

Earth to Milo: it doesn't work, not even for the American Empire. Sooner or later, reality bites back. Looks like his time is just about up.

[As a side note, Dr. Fleming's condemnation of this smear campaign soon drew the attention of rabid Islamists (see writeback), whose absurd and hysterical charges against Dr. Trifkovic also named yours truly. Though signed "CAIR," the post actually reeked of Stephen Schwartz.]

Friday, July 08, 2005

Useless Power

Charles Featherstone of LRC had another fantastic commentary yesterday, which I somehow missed. For all its belligerence and bluster, he says, the Empire is already crumbling:
America's Army, Navy and Air Force have become useless instruments. Our soldiers can occupy, our planes can bomb relentlessly and with precision, our ships can patrol the seas, but who fears us now? Five years ago, when the glow of the War to Liberate Kuwait and air offensive against Yugoslavia still made American arms appear invincible, perhaps the governments and peoples of the world trembled at the thought of the United States military. But today, when a few thousand insurgents can tie down, tire and incapacitate that Army, what is there to left to fear?

Some governments may still quake at the thought of air strikes and the destruction of government "capital" and "investments" they would bring. But a people determined to resist us can look at Iraq and take heart – yes, we can be beaten. It's not all that hard.

[Paul] Harvey is right to fear defeat. In many ways, we have already lost.

When our whole approach to fighting "terror" is to inflict pain on people until they behave they way we want, what do we do when they can take all the pain we have to give? How much more pain are we willing – or able – to inflict until we realize the pointlessness of it all? Or until conscience confronts us?

And how many hydrogen bombs are we willing to use? One? Two? A dozen? A hundred? And if people still resist, or are driven to resist, what then? Shall we destroy the entire world?

We have unleashed our power upon the world only to discover that it is terribly finite, a great deal more limited than we hoped and imagined. Hundreds of billions of dollars spent on bombs, tanks, planes, soldiers, and every passing day we are less and less able to bend the world to our will.

A whole arsenal of useless power.

Those who engineered the rise of the American Empire in the mid-1990s wanted it to be both feared and loved. Bush II decided to dispense with love; "Oderint dum metuant" really did become the Imperial motto. But now the fear is almost gone, and hate is all that remains. Now what?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Newton's Third Law

On Wednesday, June 29, there was a commentary in the Belgrade daily Glas Javnosti that captured the ire of the Serbian public over the relentless media campaign concerning the "genocide" in Srebrenica. Titled "Srebrenica and Reaction," it can be read in a BBC translation here.

However, considering the BBC translation somewhat lacking, I'm offering my own. You be the judge of how they compare, but do note the point the author is making, for when you hear the next round of Srebrenica hysteria.

Action causes reaction. There is no principle more simple and more true. If you beat your wife, your daughter will certainly fall for some local thug. If you write something about Dinkić, he will sic his BIA (Badgering Inspectors' Armada) on you. If you mess with Brankica "Insider" Stanković, you will have to extradite Radovan Karadžić to avoid arrest...

This natural law applies to Serbs as well. If you tell us a story about Srebrenica every night at bedtime, we will wish to never hear it again. If every session of the parliament turns into an argument over Srebrenica, we will elect other MPs, who will argue about something different. If you continue to invite Nataša Kandić to your shows, we'll change the channel...

Since the Scorpions' atrocity video was shown, we have been watching a sort of Olympics for NGO-profiteers. Nataša Kandić & Co. can hardly manage to run from B92 studios to an exhibit on Srebrenica, then take their seats at a round table on Srebrenica, then dash to a conference on Srebrenica, from which they would race to a debate on Srebrenica, after which they would saunter to a forum about Srebrenica, finishing it off with a rally about Srebrenica. All along telling the foreign media, who paint them as local pillars of democracy and free speech, about their "martyrdom" in uncovering the "truth" about Srebrenica.

Meanwhile, Bojan Pajtić of the Vojvodina Executive Council proposes that Serbia declares a day of mourning for Srebrenica (yes, the same Bojan Pajtić who told Serbia that there is no need for Bodrum Day - imagine that, he's still a free man!), and Exit organizers decide that the entire festival will fall silent in the night of July 10-11, to commemorate Srebrenica... If it didn't smell like Nenad Čanak, it would downright Kandić-like. Speaking of Exit, what is Maja Gojković doing? What's the use of having a Radical as the mayor of Novi Sad, if Exit organizers can fall silent at will?

The hysterical campaign of "All Serbs are guilty of Srebrenica" will make us all eventually say, "Enough with the 'truth' about Srebrenica". Action and reaction.

You know, Americans never adopted a resolution on Hiroshima or Nagasaki, not to mention Iraq, Milica Rakić, the Indians... The English will never declare a day of mourning over the Falklands Islands. Croats will never so much as think of silencing the Split festival over Jasenovac, or the bombings of refugee columns in "Flash" and "Storm". It's a good bet the Bosniaks [sic] will never apologize for the suffering of Serbs in Sarajevo, or around Srebrenica, or because Izetbegović rejected the Cutilheiro peace plan.

Instead of learning from Americans, the English, Croats and Bosniaks, we Serbs constantly holler about "crimes in our name". So it makes sense that the United States Senate declares us - and only us - the culprits for a crime that took place 10 years ago, with a special resolution. There could be a connection: clamor about "crimes in our name" and the Senate slaps you down. Action, and reaction.

Miodrag Zarković

Friday, July 01, 2005

Hourglass Hypocrisy

I've long intended to address the activities and existence of the Jacobins in Serbia: the militant, Empire-worshipping, media-dominating "non-governmental" and "civic" faction that is small in numbers, but loud enough to drown any reasoned debate in that beleaguered society.

Recently, political commentator Marinko M. Vučinić took to task the editors of "The Hourglass," a popular show on the Jacobin B92 television, on the site of Nova Srpska Politička Misao (see original here). I've taken the liberty of translating just one passage from his commentary, which in my opinion describes extraordinarily well the main discourse of the Jacobins - their hatred, frustration and alien relationship with ethics:

"What are the main positions of these passionate zealots for truth in Serbia? Without even trying to appear objective, they treat their opinions as absolute. For them, Serbia today is a place of horror, a bandit state, a black hole of Europe where it is impossible to live or think in a civilized manner. National mentality dooms the Serbs to be manipulated slaves; our history and traditions are nothing but illusions and myths; we are prisoners of the past, unable to embrace Europe and modernity. We are steeped in chauvinism and clericalism, unable to face the past; politics is dominated by thugs, liars and swindlers.
The exception, of course, are representatives of the so-called civic intelligentsia, who always merit approval. So what if no one ever explained to Biljana Srbljanović how the "terribly interesting, competent and fascinating" Čeda Jovanović came to own a house with a pool in Ripanj, multiple apartments, horses...? It matters not. Such things are trivial compared to the importance of this ideological stormtrooper's modernization efforts. So you see, the relentless criticism of the "Hourglass" editors does know some limits, if only when it concerns the like-minded."